National Day Rally 2015: Singapore Institute of Technology's new central campus to be housed in Punggol

An artist's impression of the Singapore Institute of Technology's new integrated campus in Punggol.
An artist's impression of the Singapore Institute of Technology's new integrated campus in Punggol. PHOTO: SIT

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Institute of Technology's (SIT) new central campus will be located in Punggol, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday.

SIT's campus will be integrated with a nearby creative industry cluster to be built by the JTC Corporation, along with Punggol Downtown and the Housing Development Board's upcoming Northshore District.

"So Punggol 21 Plus will now be Punggol 21 A-Plus!" said PM Lee, expanding on the vision of Punggol that he first unveiled in his 2007 rally speech.

The university's main campus at Dover Road - along with its five satellite campuses located in the various polytechnics - will be housed together in the new Punggol site, he added.

SIT, which was set up in 2009 with the aim to offer degree opportunities to polytechnic graduates, took in 2,000 students this year. It plans to expands its courses and have an annual intake of 3,500 by 2020.

This is in line with the Government's goal to enable 40 per cent of each age group to study for full-time degrees in the six local universities.

"Students can easily go from classroom to workplace and apply what they learn," said PM Lee. "The community will share SIT's facilities - classrooms, workshops and multi-purpose hall."

PM Lee also provided a sneak preview of how the new campus will look like, with the university campus connected to the JTC cluster by link bridges.

Mr Lee, who visited the SIT campus at Dover Road earlier this year, cited one its students, 27-year-old Chen Zhangkai, as a prime example of how SIT's focus on applied learning is in tune with the SkillsFuture initiative. The initiative aims to build deep skills and expertise in Singaporean workers.

Chen Zhangkai. PHOTO: MCI

Mr Chen took a less direct path than the average student - after his Primary School Leaving Examination, he ended up in the Normal (Technical) stream in Secondary School before moving to the Institute of Technical Education.

He then went to Nanyang Polytechnic before embarking on his SIT journey.

"Step by step, he perservered and overcame setbacks."

Mr Chen graduated from SIT last year. The director of an animation studio was so impressed with his final year project and portfolio that he offered him an internship.

He is now working as an animator.

Earlier in his speech, PM Lee also spoke of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wish for Singapore to become a "rugged society".

He said it was key for the country's people to still be robust and tough, take hard knocks and strive to be better.

"But a rugged society doesn't mean every man for himself; we are strong even though we are small, because we are strong together," he said.

"The ethos of our society is clear. If you work hard, you should do well. And if you do well. we expect you to help others. And everyone has to work together so that we succeed as Team Singapore."

On the need to inculcate this value in the young, PM Lee explained why it was important to send them to Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) in Pulau Ubin and overseas expeditions for adventure learning and character education.

He recounted about his own OBS experience in Secondary 4, which left an indelible impression.

Nowadays, students have many more opportunities to go for adventure learning, here and abroad, he noted. Tanjong Katong Primary School, for instance, has a very successful programme - the Omega Challenge - which has been going on for seven years.

The most recent expedition to climb Mount Kinabalu ended in tragedy when the group was caught in an earthquake, resulting in the deaths of seven students, two teachers and a guide.

"We all mourned them, and grieved with their families. We held a National Day of Remembrance, and it will take us a long time to get over this tragedy.

"But we have to go on with adventure learning. Take necessary precautions, but keep on pushing our limits."